Zynga second-in-command John Schappert resigns

Embattled social games giant insists its COO has departed 'as a friend of the company'

John Schappert, the decorated games industry executive who has held senior roles at companies such as Microsoft and EA, has resigned from his position as COO of social games giant Zynga.


He departs from the embattled social games firm in the wake of its decision to strip him of various executive powers associated with games development and publishing.

In a statement, Zynga insisted that Schappert has resigned "as a friend of the company and it wishes him all the best".

A message from Schappert was not included in the statement.

The high-profile industry executive joined Zynga in April 2011 after resigning as COO of the its biggest social games rival, EA. The switch was widely considered as a significant coup for the Farmville company.

The next year Schappert told journalists that he joined Zynga because "it was where I saw gaming was going" - a reference to the explosive growth and perceived abundance of opportunities in the social games space.

But Zynga has suffered from the acute slump in optimism for social games across Wall Street. The company launched its IPO in December 2011 at $10 per share yet on Wednesday its value stood at $2.95.

Much like how the halo effect surrounding Facebook had put Zynga in a favourable light, the social network's weak progress on the stock market had cast doubts over Facebook games in general.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said: "We can confirm that John Schappert has left Zynga and its board of directors effective immediately. John has made significant contributions to the games industry throughout his career and we appreciate all that he has done for Zynga".

Last Wednesday it was revealed that Schappert had delegated his responsibilities jointly to chief mobile officer David Ko and executive vice president Steve Chiang.

It is unclear why Schappert had his executive powers stripped at Zynga and why he departed. Between 2005 and 2007, the veteran publishing executive held a commanding position at Microsoft's Xbox 360 team where he served as corporate vice president of Xbox Live software and services.

He is cited with having spearheaded production on the website, an online portal that created a hairline fracture in the hitherto solid relationship between Zynga and Facebook.